Federalist #3 – promoting a United America

Federalist #3 argued that a more United America would preserve long term “good faith and justice” to create a healthy tension against potentially shallow immediate concerns.  In this way, the national government would check and balance member States which might otherwise behave as reactionary, independent countries:

Because the prospect of present loss or advantage may often tempt the governing party in one or two States to swerve from good faith and justice; but those temptations, not reaching the other States, and consequently having little or no influence on the national government, the temptation will be fruitless, and good faith and justice be preserved.

United States in 1787

In another passage, I’m not sure how intentional John Jay was in his use of the word “efficient”.  But with the benefit of hindsight, I think that word is key to the point he made.  Today, we must be vigilant in reigning in the excesses of our country (Federal spending jumps to my mind), so that national leadership itself doesn’t become an intractable problem – and thus an undesirable pursuit.  Jay argues that a United America (if efficient) encourages involvement by the best leaders in a larger talent pool:

Because when once an efficient national government is established, the best men in the country will not only consent to serve, but also will generally be appointed to manage it; for, although town or country, or other contracted influence, may place men in State assemblies, or senates, or courts of justice, or executive departments, yet more general and extensive reputation for talents and other qualifications will be necessary to recommend men to offices under the national government,—especially as it will have the widest field for choice, and never experience that want of proper persons which is not uncommon in some of the States. Hence, it will result that the administration, the political counsels, and the judicial decisions of the national government will be more wise, systematical, and judicious than those of individual States, and consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations, as well as more safe with respect to us.

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